Now that I've straightened out where Ch. six went... Moving right along. I hope to get them all up now, but I have to leave in 1/2 and hour, so it may or may not happen. If not, I'll be back in a few hours and finish it off then. Moving along, Buffy and Spike head for a Scooby meeting.
Chapter Seven (7/9)
Hours later, after Buffy had changed clothes and eaten dinner, she waited impatiently for Spike to put on his boots and coat. When he finally joined her at the door, Joyce offered to drive them to the Magic Box, mentioning that the sun wasn’t quite down yet.
“No thanks, Mom,” she said with a smile. “We’ll be all right. Spike’s an expert on running around in the sun like an idiot.”
Lifting his lip at Buffy in a mostly-real snarl, he addressed himself to Joyce.
“Isn’t it some kind of law in this bloody country that every teenager has to learn to drive the minute they’re old enough? What’s wrong with your daughter?”
“There is nothing wrong with me,” Buffy huffed. “I just don’t like mechanical things. And they don’t like me….” she added in a much softer voice. “Anyway, it’ll be dark in a few minutes. You’ll be fine.”
Still bickering, they waved good-bye to Joyce and started out the door. At the last second, Buffy remembered they hadn’t warned Joyce about Riley, and whirled around to tell her not to let him in. When Joyce asked why it would matter as long as Spike wasn’t there, Buffy exchanged looks with Spike then said, “He…it’s possible…”
“The stupid git is thinkin’ about getting himself turned,” Spike growled over Buffy’s stammering. “Don’t care how normal he looks to you, just don’t invite him in.”
Buffy and Spike walked in comfortable silence, their powerful strides eating up the distance between Revello Drive and the Magic Box. Buffy kept an eye on him, asking eventually, “How do you feel? Do you want to slow down?”
“I’m fine, Slayer,” he said, hiding the smile he couldn’t control when he heard the concern in her voice. “I’ll stop by Willy’s later and get some O Neg. Between that and another good rest, I should be back to my old obnoxious self by tomorrow.”
“Back to your old self, huh?” she said. “Well I’m not sure I want you to be that much better!”
“Are you really sure you don’t?” His lifted his eyebrows and wriggled them theatrically while he leered.
“You are such an ass.”
“’s why you love me,” he grinned, holding the door open for her.
“I don’t… Just shut up!” She flew through the doorway, her face flaming only to find everyone staring at them with various expressions of shock on their faces. Too late, she realized that she’d allowed Spike to open and hold the door for her as if he were a man rather than an annoying vampire.
“Hi, guys, “ she said weakly. “Thanks for coming. I just thought it would be easier to tell everybody at one time instead of trying to catch everybody before…”
“Before…?” Giles gazed at her with curiosity, then over her shoulder with barely concealed hostility. Spike smirked back at him and jumped up on the counter to watch.
“Looking better, fangface,” Xander said into the silence. “Has the Buffster been keeping you safe from those big bad humans?”
Spike gave Xander the expected glare, somewhat muted by his memory of how the boy had helped Buffy care for him. He muttered a face-saving something about what he’d do when the chip was out and turned away from Xander’s laughing “You’re welcome”.
“What humans? What is Xander talking about?” Giles stared at the two new arrivals, a frown creasing his brow.
“You didn’t tell him?” Buffy looked at Xander in surprise.
“I just told him Spike got beat up and that he was recovering at your house.” He shrugged in embarrassment. “We weren’t sure exactly what to say about who did it, and I don’t really know how or why it happened, so…”
“It happened because Riley’s a poophead,” Willow muttered.
“Thank you, Willow, that was quite informative.” Giles rolled his eyes like a teenager.
“Sarcasm is never pretty, Giles,” Willow said primly, giving him her best offended sniff.
Ignoring her, Giles looked at Spike, noticing for the first time the fading bruises on the vampire’s face. He waited for an explanation from the vampire, but when it wasn’t forthcoming, turned his attention to Buffy.
“Here’s the sitch, Giles. Riley and I have been having some…relationship issues…lately, and he decided to take out his anger about it on Spike. I don’t know what would have happened if I hadn’t found them when I did.”
“And why would he take it out on Spike?” The older man’s shrewd look told her he was going to be no easier to fool than her mother was.
“Because he can’t fight back,” Tara said quietly. “And because without his enhancements, Riley’s ego seems to need a little boosting.”
“He’s jealous,” Buffy said flatly, determined to get that out of the way before the discussion went any further. “I said something about dating Spike when I was trying to convince Riley to come in and get that chip out, and he just took it and ran with it.”
“You said something about dating Spike?” Xander was suddenly paying much closer attention to the conversation.
“It just popped out. He – Riley – was afraid I wouldn’t want him any more once he was normal, and I said if I wanted somebody with superpowers, I’d be dating Spike.”
“So, you were, like, just saying that. You didn’t mean you actually wanted to date Spike, right?”
Buffy blushed, avoiding Spike’s intent gaze.
“I’m telling you the same thing I told Riley – I have too many other things to worry about now. Dating isn’t on my list.”
Hoping she’d been vague enough to deflect suspicion, she continued quickly.
“So that’s why we had to have a meeting.”
“We’re having a meeting because you and Riley are on the outs? Or because he beat up Spike?” Giles still looked confused.
“Oh, no! We’re having a meeting because Riley came to the house this morning looking for Spike and he said…” She looked at Spike for assistance and he jumped off the counter to stand behind her.
“The wanker is thinking about hitting the vamp bite houses and getting himself turned.”
“Dear lord,” Giles muttered. “What could he be thinking?”
“Seems he thinks the Slayer has a thing for vampires and that she’ll fall at his feet.”
“Oh dear. Buffy, I’m so sor--” Giles’ expression changed, as did his intended words. “…so bloody angry at that oaf, I would volunteer to be the one to stake him for you. I am sorry, Buffy.”
Buffy waved her hand dismissively. “He thinks I won’t stake him. He’s wrong. The bottom line is that you all need to be careful when you’re out at night, and don’t go near him. And don’t let him in your house or room. If he can’t get in under his own power, you’ll know what happened. Call me right away.”
She turned toward her friends. “I’m going to try to prevent it, if I can.”
“For starters, I’m going to burn down all those…places…where people go to get sucked.”
“How will you find them? I doubt anyone is going to share that information with the Slayer.”
“Spike’s going to show me.”
Buffy put her hands on her hips and glared at him. “You know where they are, don’t you?”
“Most of ‘em,” he admitted grudgingly. “But those poor vamps working there aren’t hurtin’ anybody. No more than they want to be hurt…”
“It’s disgusting. And dangerous. They have to go.”
Spike and Giles exchanged a look, then the watcher said softly, “Buffy, you do realize that Riley can get himself turned almost anywhere? He could go to Willy’s, or just hang around the cemeteries until he finds a vamp to drain him.”
“He could,” she admitted reluctantly. “But if he thinks there’s something…I mean Spike says…and he could probably trust a…maybe he wouldn’t…” She looked at Spike, saying meekly, “Help?”
“What the Slayer is trying so eloquently to say is that there can be a sexual component to a vamp bite. It feels good – or it can, if done right. And the soldier-boy obviously already knows that – has heard about it, at least. Don’t see him taking his chances on some random vamp that wants to tear his throat out when he can have it done all gentle-like and get himself off at the same time.”
Buffy’s flaming face told him he might have been a bit too graphic in his description, but his apologetic shrug wasn’t seen by anyone except Giles. Anya was busy reminiscing about vampires she’d known back in her demon days, Xander was struggling not to appear curious, and Willow and Tara were looking appropriately shocked.
“Buffy…” Giles began, not sure what he intended to say.
“Giles, it doesn’t matter whether they’re intentionally hurting anybody or not. The point is, they could. Who knows how many of the vampires I stake every night came from some vamp-ho who didn’t know when to stop? Besides, maybe if it isn’t easy for him, Riley will think twice about it.”
“He might think twice about it once he cools down,” Xander volunteered, still reluctant to give up on his only male friend in spite of the surprising changes in Riley’s behavior.
Buffy looked at him in surprise.
“Xander, he was lying to you to get you to do something you knew was wrong. How can you defend him after that?”
“Well, I didn’t know it was wrong, did I? I mean, if Deadboy, Jr there got the chip out…”
“You’d be the first to know, Harris,” Spike said with a grin that just exposed the tips of his fangs.
“See! It could have been true!” Xander glared back at the unrepentant vampire.
“I heard what you said to that wanker,” Spike said, allowing his grin to fade. “You already knew it wasn’t true before Buffy got there.”
Xander sighed and shrugged. “Yeah, all right. I guess I did. But I could have been wrong about you. You are still evil, aren’t you?” He gave Spike a confused frown.
“Sometimes, I guess I am,” Spike answered with a sideways look at Buffy. “But there’s nobody in this room isn’t safe from me, chip or no chip.”
“You do understand that, as reassuring as that may be, it is not quite what’s needed to allay our fears?” Giles asked dryly.
“Bloody hell,” the vampire muttered. He turned on Buffy accusingly. “What do I have to do for these gits?”
“You could start by not calling them stupid British names,” she said with mock severity, putting her hands on her hips and glaring at him.
The soft look on his face when he gazed at the obviously not really angry slayer, and her own twitching lips when he grinned had everyone except Tara blinking their eyes in shocked comprehension.
“Oh, dear lord,” Giles muttered, turning away so as not to see the undeniable silent communication going on between Buffy and another – this time, soulless – vampire.
Xander continued to gape at them, long after everyone else had shrugged and gone back to discussing what to do about Riley. When he felt he had regained control of his mouth, he said, “What? How? When? Why didn’t I know this?”
“Know what?” Buffy asked, oblivious to the new found knowledge in everyone’s eyes.
“You and Deadboy, Jr, there. That’s what. No wonder Riley tried to kill him…no offense,” he added, with a shrug in Spike’s direction.
“None taken,” Spike sighed, jumping back up onto the counter. “And there’s nothing to know. Slayer’s got more important things to worry about right now than…” He stopped, unwilling to say any more without permission from Buffy.
“Buffy has a hellgod, a hormonal key, a mother recovering from brain surgery and an ex-boyfriend who wants to be a vampire. She has no time in her life for anything else. So get it out of your minds. We have other things to concentrate on.”
Buffy held her ground, refusing to acknowledge the rolled eyes and sidelong glances at Spike. She turned to glare at him, asking, “Are you going to help me find these places or not?”
With a sigh, he jumped off the counter and stood beside her.
“I’ll help you, pet, if you’ll do me one favor.”
She gazed back at him noncommittally.
“I want you to let two of the girls go. Let me get them out first, yeah?”
“What? Are you crazy? Why would I do that?” Her eyes narrowed jealously. “What are they to you?”
Spike took her arm and tried to move her out of hearing range, but Buffy planted her feet and refused to move with him. She tapped her foot as she waited for him to answer her question.
With a frustrated growl, he said, “They’re sweet girls that Dru turned years ago when she and Angelus were running around town. They kept them alive for a while and…” He shrugged his shoulders. “I owe them,” he said simply. “They’ve never hurt a fly, they’re just trying to survive without killing people and I’m not gonna be the one that leads the Slayer to them.”
“You want me to spare some of your ex-girlfriends?” Buffy’s voice climbed into a range that made Spike wince and cover his ears.
“They’re not ex-anythings,” he growled. “They just aren’t dangerous to anybody and I promised them I’d keep them safe. I keep my promises.”
Buffy’s nostrils flared, unreasonable anger making her temporarily mute, while Spike stared back at her, his face set in a stony mask and his eyes hard. Just as the Scoobies were wondering if there was going to be Spike dust floating around the shop, Giles stepped forward.
“This is quite interesting information,” he said to Spike. “I should like to interview these…young women, if you could guarantee my safety.”
“Just said they’d never hurt anyone, didn’t I?” Spike grumbled, flashing the watcher a grateful look never the less.
“This is quite unprecedented. There is little or nothing in the Watcher files to indicate that is even possible.”
“Council of Wankers doesn’t know everything,” Spike said mildly, relaxing his stance a little now that it was clear Buffy’s watcher was not going to allow her to stake the girls.
“Exactly. Which is why it is so important that I interview them. Buffy,” he turned to his shocked slayer, “please do not harm Spike’s…friends. I should like very much to speak with them.”
Buffy’s mouth opened and closed several times before she gave up and spun around to head for the door.
“Come on, Spike,” she snapped out. “We’ve got places to go, vamps to stake…”